Thursday, 30 June 2016

Chapter 2 “This is, I take it, some kind of private club.”: Chapter Notes

The French brothel Le Chabanais,  the inspiration for the Babylon Exploration Society

Bath at Le Chabanais

This Post provides notes on Chapter 2 of The Lust World: A Sexual Odyssey, an erotic adventure story.

Back at the Reform Club Britten refers to Molloy's 'bagpiping' episode.  This was a not uncommon slang term for fellatio at the time.

The Moorish bedroom at Le Chabanais, the Parisian brothel

The Babylon Exploration Society, the high class bordello which features in this and subsequent chapters, is entirely Triple P's invention and there is no evidence of such an establishment in London at the time.  We have based it more on the Parisian model (hence our French Madame) of the  maisons de tolérance of which there were at least forty major brothels in Paris at this time (and up to 80 smaller establishments).  Prostitution was legal and regulated in France and brothels (but not prostitution) were only made illegal in 1946.

Margot in Le Chabanais

In Britain, the number of brothels in London had made it the European centre of prostitution in the eighteenth century with some brothels even being owned by the Church of England!  In 1860 Britain moved to a system of licensed prostitution, mainly as a method to control veneral diseases (the French system required very regular medical checks).  The estimate of the number of prostitutes operating in London in the nineteenth century vary between around 10,000 and 80,000!  Gradually, campaigners sought to ban them and in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 the age of consent was raised from 12 to 16 which undercut the supply of young prostitutes and meant that men were much more worried about getting caught with an underage girl.  Prostitution was banned outright a year later.

The Pompeian Salon at Le Chabanais

So we have framed our bordello as a private member's club which is not open to all and have chosen to decorate it it in a florid international style, which would have appealed at the time.  The themed rooms are based on the famous brothel Le Chabanais in Paris, the opulence of which was simply staggering.

One of Toulose-Lautrec's interiors of Le Chabanais

A favourite of high society, from Toulouse-Lautrec (who painted a number of pictures there which were then displayed on the walls) to regular Parisian visitor the Prince of Wales  (later King Edward VII) it was even included as a destination on official state visits to France and was considered a national treasure.

The Prince of Wales' favourite: the Hindi Room

This copper Sphinx bath in Le Chabanais was a favourite of the Prince of Wales and was located in the Hindi Room. He often used it for Champagne baths with his selected ladies (only using Mumm Cordon Rouge!).  It was eventually bought by Salvador Dali in the nineteen seventies, who installed it in his suite at the Hotel Meurice.  Triple enjoyed a Champagne bath once (in Rome not Paris) which a lady gave us for our birthday.  We can confirm it takes about 12 cases to fill a bath!

The salon Louis XV at Le Chabanais

Some of Le Chabanais' ladies, ready for action in the Salon Louis XV

Founded by an Irish born woman known as Madame Kelly, Le Chabanais was opened in 1878 and cost a staggering 1.2 million Francs (the equivalent of $12.5 million) to decorate.  It was paid for by wealthy investors who bought shares in the project.

In our Babylon Exploration Society the clients make their choice from a menu of photographs but this was nothing compared with some of the top Parisian establishments who gave their clients stereoscopic viewers so they could look at their potential choices in 3D images!

Oriental bedroom at Le Chabaanais

Le Chabenais did a roaring trade during World War 1 but in World War 2 it, like the other brothels, served the occupying Germans and this was a good part of the reason that all brothels were made illegal and closed down in 1946.  Many of the girls had their heads forcibly shaved as collaborators.

The choice of the name Babylon Exploration Society gives it a respectable sounding name and reflects its international girls.  Most, if not quite all the names of the girls who work at the Babylon Exploration Society are those of foreign ex-girlfriends of Triple P's, such as our German friend Bettina, who wanted a cameo role in the story!

Mirrors everywhere, even on the ceiling, at Le Chabanais

Molloy's choice, the Japanese girl Hoshimi, is a little reference to the fact that the Japanese room at Le Chabanais actually won a design prize at the 1900 Paris Universal Expo!  The French had no problem awarding a gold medal to a brothel interior!

The location of the fictional Hotel Babylon on King Street

We have located the Babylon Exploration Society in King Street which is not far from The Reform Club or the Ritz hotel, which features in some subsequent chapters.  Primarily, though, this a nod to one of Triple P's favourite trashy TV series of a few years ago, Hotel Babylon.  The external location for the fictional hotel in the series was in King Street!

St James Theatre (1896)

Although King Street still has some old buildings, it has seen a lot of redevelopment recently (such as the 'Hotel Babylon' office block); the most significant change was the demolishing of the St James' Theatre (built in 1835) which features in our chapter heading and is, in our story, close to the Babylon Exploration Society building.  Despite a campaign led by Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh it was demolished in 1957, although it did lead to a direction from London County Council that no other theatres could be demolished in London without a replacement being built.

At the Babylon Exploration Society Molloy and Britten drink Château Pichon Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande, which is another of Triple P's favourite clarets.  They are lucky to be able to drink the 1900, one of the most fabulous vintages on record.  Bordeaux from this vintage is still drinkable today (Triple P has had one!).  The average price of the current vintages is about £125 a bottle. 

Chapter 1 “A doer, not a story teller!”: Chapter Notes

This Post provides notes on Chapter 1 of The Lust World: A Sexual Odyssey, an erotic adventure story.

Our hero, Edmund Molloy, meets the lovely Agnes Cardwell and her father at the exhibition of Italian Futurists held at the Sackville Gallery in Sackville Street, just off Piccadilly  This exhibition, then on tour around Europe, did indeed take place in March 1912. The Sackville Gallery (which closed in 1939) specialised in old Masters so this exhibition was unusual for them.

Bal Tabarin by Gino Severini (1912)

It had already stirred up controversy in Paris "Weird paintings exhibited in Paris" said The Daily Mirror in February that year and, in fact, Mr Cardwell's negative reaction to the pictures of the likes of Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, and Gino Severini  was shared by many.  

The Daily Mirror, which obviously had a down on Futurism, published a cartoon by W.K. Haselden on March 15th 1912, entitled how to paint a futurist picture.  Mr Cardwell would no doubt have approved!

 The Cafe Royal by Charles Ginner (1911)

Edmund then takes Agnes to the Cafe Royal, a popular place for artistic types at the time. Established in 1865 by a French wine merchant, it attracted many well known figures as its patrons, who enjoyed the glittering gold and mirrored interior. In fact, Arthur Conan Doyle was a regular, as was Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and many others.

The Cafe Royal by Sir William Orpen (1912)

We were able to get our description of the interior correct thanks to two paintings done at the time by Ginner and Orpen.  We used a black and white version of Orpen's painting for our chapter heading.  We featured one of Orpen's nudes, which has a fascinating backstory, over on Venus Observations here.

The Cafe Royal today

Triple P has been to the Cafe Royal a number of times in the past, most memorably when he was taken there for a four hour lunch by his friend HMS in the nineties, when we demolished several bottles of Chateau Léoville Las Cases 1978 at around £200 a bottle.  Recently the whole place has been turned into a new five star hotel (it was starting to look a little tired) and the main mirrored room, as featured in the two paintings above, has been beautifully restored as the hotel's restaurant.

The Reform Club today

Molloy often meets up with his friend William Britten at the Reform Club, which makes its first appearance in this chapter.  It is somewhere else that still looks much as it did just over a hundred years ago.  Triple P has a former colleague who is a member and so has been there a number of times and it is always easier to write about somewhere you know.   Also, Arthur Conan Doyle was a member!

The upper corridor of the main saloon at the Reform Club today

Miss Yates poses in the upper corridor of the saloon at the Reform Club, where William Britten has his favourite chair

We posted a Penthouse pictorial of Paula Yates shot at the Reform Club in 1977 (can't think that they would allow that now!) so you can see more of the interior and read about the history of the club, which is very much the most splendid of the London clubs.

The District Railway's Charing Cross underground station below Charing Cross mainline station

After being rejected by Agnes, Molloy heads off to the "District Railway to Charing Cross".  All railways in Britain, including the underground ones, were built and run by the private sector at this time and the underground did not come under public operation until 1933.  The District Railway, like all of the London Underground, ran on steam originally but in 1905 the District Railway introduced electric trains (as in the illustration from 1914, above). Charing Cross underground station in 1912 is now known as Embankment.  What is now Charing Cross station used to be two separate stations (for different railway companies).  The first was called Trafalgar Square (owned by the Baker Street (another Conan Doyle link!) and Waterloo Railway - officially changed to  Bakerloo, as it still is today, in 1906).  The second was called Charing Cross (for the Northern Line only) but was changed to Strand in 1915 at which point Charing Cross (Embankment) went back to just being called Embankment. The existing Strand station on the Piccadilly line (now closed but Triple P remembers when it was in weekday only operation) was renamed Aldwych at the same time. Confused?

The new name for Trafalgar Square station is revealed early in this May 1979 photo

Triple P remembers the old Trafalgar Square station too and that was not subsumed into the Charing Cross line until 1979, with the opening of the new Jubilee line. 

Being pregnant didn't get you out of having to wear a corset!

Molloy mentions how many women were pregnant by the time they were married and this is an interesting area, given the image of lack of sex outside marriage we have of people from this period.  In fact in 1840 recent research, using parish registers in England, has shown that nearly 40% of women were pregnant on their wedding day and of those over 25% had been pregnant for more than 3 months.   In 1938 the figure was still 18% of women being pregnant at their wedding (with 51% of under 20s being pregnant).  So it is clear that women did not wait until they were married to start having sex. Very useful for the purposes of our story!  

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Preface: Chapter Notes

This Post provides notes on the Preface of The Lust World: A Sexual Odyssey, an erotic adventure story. 

It was  suggested that  we post background historical notes on each chapter. There is a lot of historical research needed for a story set in the past and you almost can't take anything for granted about life then compared with today, even for a story set at the time just before Triple P's grandparents got married.  This blog will enable us to go into a bit more detail about some of the research we did for the story and will also enable us to post more pictures than we do in the story blog itself, which we have deliberately kept to text, apart from some chapter heading pictures.

Manaós at the time of our story

The Preface of the story is set in Manaós, some three years after the events related in the main narrative.  Originally founded in 1694 as a Portuguese fort, the city officially became a town in 1832 with the name Manaus, named after the local Manaós people.  It really prospered as a result of the rubber trade in the late nineteenth century and by the time of the story boasted fine European style buildings and even an opera house (featured in the film Fitzcarraldo (1982).

The Amazonas Theatre, Manaus

In 1912 the city was referred to as Manaós but went back to being called Manaus in 1939.  The city is 900 miles inland and is built at the  point where the Negro and Solimões (Upper Amazon) rivers meet.

Our original introduction to the story is below:

For some time Triple P has been discussing writing an erotic story with our friend Sophie.  We have started a number of tales which we have shared with her and several of our other mutual friends who have all contributed suggestions and even scenarios.  These stories, originally based on the adventures of a group of French lady archaeologists in Egypt in 1921, have grown far beyond what they were originally intended to do  and got ever more complex; with extended flashbacks and such like.  They will need some rigorous editing! Sophie suggested starting a new story from scratch.  Triple P and she had often mused about the possibility of taking a classic adventure story and "sexing it up".   An early favourite was to do something with A Journey to the Centre of the Earth but recent discussions have centred around The Lost World, mainly because it has dinosaurs in it! 

We reread the novel last summer and decided to write a first chapter to see how it might go. Very soon we began to deviate from the original story; just keeping versions of the main characters  (and in typical Hollywood style, adding female ones not in the book) but retaining the core story of a group of explorers travelling to South America looking for a dinosaur infested plateau.

We decided to set it in the original date of 1912 which, of course, raised all sorts of issues regarding historical factors.  Still,we have enjoyed researching such things as ocean liners (unlike the book, which skips over the sea voyage to South America we couldn't resist having our characters on an ocean liner for an extend period), hotels (and discovered things such as London hotels did not have en suite bathrooms or room service at the time), the level of contemporary understanding of dinosaurs, the layout of the Natural History Museum, menstrual protection for women (almost unbelievably cumbersome), the names of London Underground stations (some have changed) and that critical and complex subject of women's lingerie.

Conan Doyle was one of the greatest writers of popular fiction and his elegant, spare, prose is impossible to better,  so although we have made no attempt to write in the style of a hundred years ago we have tried to avoid the anachronistic use of some words and expressions. 

All in all we have managed to include a host of things we have always been interested in: dinosaurs (both real and the ones at Crystal Palace), ocean liners. luxury hotels, women's lingerie, English country houses, old cars, hunting rifles, the railways, the Amazon and bordellos; to name but a few.

The story is organised into the following parts:

Part One: London

Our hero, Edmund Molloy, becomes involved in an expedition to South America and has his first experiences with women.

Part Two: Hampshire and London

Molloy attends the birthday weekend of Lord James Hoxton, a fellow expedition member and participates in an orgiastic few days in a country house.

Part Three: Liverpool to Brazil 

The expedition members sail to Brazil via Portugal and Madeira and have many passionate encounters on board.

Part Four: Brazil, 

The expedition penetrates the depths of the Amazon jungle.  

Part Five: The Plateau

On the plateau they discover strange creatures and strange peoples.

Part Six: London

They return to London, much changed by their experiences.

So far we have written all of part one and two and are well into part three.  We have also written a lot of part five.  Each chapter is six to ten pages long and we have written over fifty chapters so far - some 450 pages or 225,000 words.  All since last summer.

Sophie has been urging us to put it online which we have resisted, as it is really a private piece written for a group of close friends, but she thinks that some other people might enjoy it.  We have, therefore, set up another blog and will post a chapter every few weeks or so to see if anyone looks at it. As she says, we are more likely to complete it if others are waiting for it (unlike my previous efforts).